Harbaugh turns Michigan's losses into a wearable for players
Ann Arbor — The losses are never forgotten, but Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh decided to make a T-shirt for each player as a reminder of last year’s season, particularly the way it ended.
Michigan opened the season with a loss at Notre Dame, but it was the way the Wolverines finished, after a 10-game winning streak, to Ohio State (62-39) and then to Florida in the Peach Bowl (41-15), that Harbaugh doesn’t want the Wolverines to forget.
“Coach Harbaugh gave us some shirts the other day with the co-Big (Ten) East champs on the front and then all the scores of the games we lost on the back,” tight end Sean McKeon said Friday night after practice. “I took that shirt and hung it up in the tight ends room with the scores (showing), just a reminder how the season ended. We don’t want to do that again, obviously.”
Had Michigan beaten Ohio State, it would have won the Big Ten East Division and played for the conference championship while remaining in the thick of the national championship playoff. McKeon said some of his teammates have worn the shirt, but he thinks it functions better as décor.
“I just like looking at it in the meeting room, just a reminder what we’re grinding for, what we’re working for, and that’s beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten,” he said.
Left guard Ben Bredeson, a captain last season, said the sting from those late-season losses have not left the returning players.
“They hurt a lot,” Bredeson said. “You never want to lose the last game of the year, and everybody here knows what the Ohio State game means to us, to them, to both of our fan bases. Losing those games in the manner we lost them, it really sucks and something we’re thinking of every single day.”
Where is his new T-shirt?
“Mine is in the bottom of my locker,” he said.
“Yeah,” Bredeson said. “It’s not coming out. I remember all of (the losses), so we’re good.”
Defensive line coach Greg Mattison left Michigan in January for Ohio State to be co-defensive coordinator and received an enormous salary bump to $1.1 million, and linebackers coach Al Washington also returned home to Columbus to coach at Ohio State where his father was a player. Bredeson was asked if those departures raise the stakes for the Michigan-Ohio State game that will be played in Ann Arbor this fall.
“Depends who you ask,” he said. “It always hurts when coaches leave. It hurts a little more when they go to a rival school. And then it hurts a lot when they go over there. I love coach Mattison. I’ll love him until the day I die. He recruited me here. He’s done more than anybody knows for me personally for my growth here as a football and as a man, so I never have anything ill to say about him, because he has done the world for me.
“But yeah, I want to beat him when we play him, absolutely.”
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste has medically retired from football, UM football spokesman Dave Ablauf confirmed Friday night. St-Juste suffered an injury last season, his sophomore year, and did not play.